A proposed plan to move the sixth-grade classes of three Spokane elementary schools up to the middle school level has been postponed following parent concern.
The plan, which would have gone before the school board Wednesday night, called for Hutton, Finch and Holmes elementary schools’ sixth-grade classes to move.
Jennifer Schneider, who has two children at Hutton Elementary, said that while she isn’t against the idea of moving the sixth-grade class to Sacajawea Middle School, parents weren’t given enough information or time.
“This is your recommendation but this is the first you’ve ever spoken to us,” she said. “There should have been a better process.”
Parents at the three schools received notification from the district this week of the potential change. The notification to Hutton Elementary parents was sent Tuesday morning, a day later than those sent to Finch and Holmes families.
“Many parents were unhappy that it was presented to them without a whole lot of notice to get to the board meeting” scheduled for Wednesday night, Schneider said.
District spokesman Kevin Morrison said the grade configuration change was recommended by district staff to deal with overcrowding.
“Hindsight is always great,” Morrison said. “But once again, when you develop a bond plan it’s a six-year cycle.”
Deana Brower, Spokane Public Schools board president, said she heard from about 15 parents raising concerns about the move. One common concern was that the change wouldn’t give this year’s current fifth graders enough time to mentally prepare for middle school.
“I believe staff are making recommendations that are best for our system,” Brower said. “But sometimes parents see thing a little bit differently.”
The district made a similar decision three years ago when Ridgeview Elementary’s sixth grade class moved to Salk Middle School. Brower said that move didn’t elicit any concern.
“This time we had more feedback,” she said. “When we hear from the community like that, it gives us reason to pause. And we should.”
Although Hutton, Finch and Holmes won’t have a reconfigured grade structure, there will likely be changes to deal with crowding, Morrison said. Those changes could mean losing some dedicated science or art classrooms, or having teachers share rooms.
Schneider said that’s a bigger concern. The school, which underwent a major remodel two years ago, is already at student capacity. And that seems wrong, she said.
“My bigger question is this is a brand-new building and we were being told that it was built for growth,” she said. “What happened there?”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.